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Bible Commentaries

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books

Acts 24

 

 

Verses 1-9

The Jews Present the Case Against Paul

After five days, the high priest, elders and an orator, or, as Ash says was the case, an attorney, presented themselves before the governor to bring a formal charge against Paul. The orator, Tertullus, flattered Felix in referring to the peace he had brought the land under Roman authority, while also failing to mention the fact that the governor had been responsible for the murder of the high priest, Jonathan. Tertullus promised to state his case briefly, so as not to infringe on Felix time.

He accused Paul (1) of being a plague, (2) of stirring up rebellion among the Jews throughout the world, (3) of being a ringleader of the Nazarene party among the Jews, and (4) trying to desecrate the temple. He urged Felix to "examine" Paul, which may mean by scourging, without mentioning the apostle"s Roman citizenship. The high priest and elders affirmed the truthfulness of the case presented by their orator (Acts 24:1-9).


Verses 10-21

Paul"s Defense Before Felix

Once the governor nodded to him, Paul began his defense. He expressed pleasure at getting to state his case before one who had years of experience in judging on matters involving the Jews. In answer to (1), the apostle noted he had only been back in Judea for 12 days, with the last 5 of those being spent in custody. It would have been hard to be a plague in such a short time. They had not found him in the temple either disputing with others or stirring up the crowd, as was suggested in (2), so there was neither time nor evidence of rebellion against Rome, which even Felix knew the Jews would have welcomed. Paul also said they could not prove their charge of (4) trying to desecrate the temple. However, concerning (3), he did worship God according to the Way, which his Jewish accusers called a sect, or party. Coffman notes, "Implicit in such a name is the trueness and rightness of it. There are many ways of sin, but only one way of eternal life."

Paul did plead guilty to worshipping the God of the Jewish fathers and believing all that was written in the law of Moses and the prophets. He readily admitted that he based his hope in God, as his accusers also did, who would raise both the righteous and wicked from the dead. Because of that belief, Paul said he tried to live as his conscience directed, so he would not offend God or man. After some five years in other parts of the world, Paul had returned to Jerusalem with a gift for the needy of the Jewish nation. Instead of profaning the temple, they found him there after he had completed his vow of purification. The apostle suggested that the Asian Jews who brought the original charges against him, and stirred up the mob, should have been present to refute the facts which he presented. He even invited those Sadducean accusers who were present to step forward and show the error in his one statement before the Sanhedrin, "Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged by you this day" (Acts 24:10-21).


Verses 22-27

Paul Before Felix and Drusilla

Luke told Theophilus that Felix had a fairly good knowledge of "the Way," or Christianity. After all, Philip and his four daughters lived in Caesarea and Cornelius had been converted while residing in the city. Rather than ruling immediately, Felix delayed judgment until Lysias came to give his testimony. This may merely have been a delaying tactic intended to illicit a bribe from the Christians. He did direct the centurion in charge of Paul to grant him basic freedom to be with his friends and have someone attend to his needs.

When Felix returned to Caesarea with his third wife Drusilla, who was one of the three daughters of Herod Agrippa I, he called for Paul to come tell him more about "the faith in Christ." The apostle presented the case for righteous living and judgment, along with consideration of the importance of self-control in such living. He also warned of the coming judgment, in which every man will be judged based upon his works (2 Corinthians 5:10). The discussion terrified Felix and moved him to send Paul away, while saying he would call for him again at a more convenient time. It is not known if that time ever came. Historians do tell us that after Felix removal from office, Drusilla and their son, Agrippa, perished in the eruption of Vesuvius. Felix did call for Paul to come converse with him often, secretly hoping to receive a bribe to release him. After two years of waiting, Felix was relieved by Festus. Felix left Paul in bonds in an effort to earn some special favor from the Jews (Acts 24:22-27).

 


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Bibliography Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Acts 24:4". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ghc/acts-24.html. 2014.

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